The high Sarasota, Florida, humidity makes your home feel hot and clammy in the summer, forcing you to use your air conditioner more. This raises your utility bills. Too much humidity can also cause health problems and make mold, pests, and damage to your home more likely. Here’s some more information on the most serious hazards of high humidity and how you can control them.
People can’t cool themselves down by sweating in high humidity effectively because their sweat won’t evaporate. If the humidity is high enough, you’ll keep sweating and stay hot and uncomfortable. This can lead to dehydration, sleeping problems, and even medical emergencies in elderly people. When the humidity is high outside, you should drink lots of water, eat fruits and vegetables with high water content such as watermelon or oranges, and avoid strenuous exercise.
If you’re experiencing any of these problems, your HVAC system could be too large for your home. If your system has too much capacity, it will cool your home quickly and then shut off. This sounds like a good thing, but it wastes energy and keeps your air conditioner from dehumidifying your home effectively. An air conditioner has to run for a long period to change humidity levels.
When it’s time to replace your system, make sure your contractor calculates the correct size for you based on Manual J, not an estimate or rule of thumb. This method considers the number of people in your home, the amount of insulation, the number of windows, how much shade you have, and other factors. Many contractors even have Manual J software.
Mold needs high humidity to grow, and mold spores can get into your home through your HVAC system, doors, or windows. Mold can aggravate asthma and allergies, irritate your skin, and cause flu-like symptoms. It can grow on walls, furniture, insulation, carpeting, ceiling tiles, and more.
You can’t keep all the mold spores out of your home, but you can keep them from growing by reducing the humidity. Use the exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathrooms to eliminate excess moisture when you cook or shower. Repair water damage from a leaky roof or leaky pipes immediately before mold has a chance to grow. Even a dripping faucet can increase the moisture in your home and cause mold growth.
Damage to Your Home
High humidity can cause wood to absorb moisture and swell, which pushes apart joints and makes the floors creak. It can even cause rot over time. Metal tools and fixtures also rust quickly when your home is humid. You could notice peeling paint or wallpaper and perhaps wet stains on your walls as well.
To prevent damage from too much moisture, check the humidity inside your home with a hygrometer, an inexpensive gauge that looks like a thermometer. Put it in a place that tends to have high humidity, such as the kitchen, bathroom, or basement, and make sure it’s not next to a heat source like the stove or furnace. That way, you’ll know when the humidity gets too high before it causes expensive damage.
Pests such as dust mites, roaches, and silverfish love high humidity. Clean your home often and avoid carpeting to reduce dust mites. Pests can live in your ductwork, where they can spread contaminants to your entire home. Twice a year, remove one of your air registers and check inside the duct for dirt, mold, pest droppings, spider webs and other problems. If your ducts are dirty, have a professional clean them to increase your HVAC system’s efficiency and your indoor air quality.
You can use a dehumidifier to prevent pests and mold and make your home healthier and more comfortable. A portable model will be less expensive, but it will only work on one or two rooms at once. A whole-home dehumidifier connects to your ductwork to remove moisture from your entire home.
Aqua Plumbing & Air has over 40 years of HVAC experience. We can help you lower your home’s humidity and install, maintain, and repair a range of equipment. Call us anytime at (941) 306-3715.
Image provided by Shutterstock